Don’t overthink it.
Research shows that the old adage “It’s the thought that counts” is reliably true only for the person who gives a gift, not the one who receives it. University of Chicago behavioral scientist Nicholas Epley, who published the findings, explains: “You know how long you stood in line to get those damn tickets and how hard you tried to pick the right seats – they don’t. Your thoughts aren’t transparent to the receiver. If you give me a mug, what I have to evaluate is the mug, not your thoughts.” The simple takeaway, Epley says, is to just get people something you know they want. Or use his tactic and get two gifts: “The giver does feel closer to a person when they’ve put thought into a gift,” Epley says, “so I give my wife one thing I think she might like and a backup that was number one on her wish list.”
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